In spite of the remarkable progress made in the burgeoning field of social neuroscience, the neural mechanisms that underlie social encounters are only beginning to be studied and could —paradoxically— be seen as representing the ‘dark matter’ of social neuroscience. Recent conceptual and empirical developments consistently indicate the need for investigations, which allow the study of real-time social encounters in a truly interactive manner. This suggestion is based on the premise that social cognition is fundamentally different when we are in (...) interaction with others rather than merely observing them. In this article, we outline the theoretical conception of a second-person approach to other minds and review evidence from neuroimaging, psychophysiological studies and related fields to argue for the development of a second-person neuroscience, which will help neuroscience to really go social; this may also be relevant for our understanding of psychiatric disorders construed as disorders of social cognition. (shrink)
According to the majority of the textbooks, the history of modern, scientific psychology can be tidily encapsulated in the following three stages. Scientific psychology began with a commitment to the study of mind, but based on the method of introspection. Watson rejected introspectionism as both unreliable and effete, and redefined psychology, instead, as the science of behaviour. The cognitive revolution, in turn, replaced the mind as the subject of study, and rejected both behaviourism and a reliance on introspection. This paper (...) argues that all three stages of this history are largely mythical. Introspectionism was never a dominant movement within modern psychology, and the method of introspection never went away. Furthermore, this version of psychology’s history obscures some deep conceptual problems, not least surrounding the modern conception of “behaviour,” that continues to make the scientific study of consciousness seem so weird. (shrink)
This volume of collected papers, with the accompanying essays by the editors, is the definitive source book for the work of this important experimental psychologist. Originally published in 1991, it offered previously inaccessible essays by Albert Michotte on phenomenal causality, phenomenal permanence, phenomenal reality, and perception and cognition. Within these four sections are the most significant and representative of the Belgian psychologist's research in the area of experimental phenomenology. Extremely insightful introductions by the editors are included that place the essays (...) in context. Michotte's ideas have played an important role in much research on the development of perception, and his work on social perception continues to be influential in social psychology. The book also includes some lesser-known aspects of his work that are equally important; for example, a remarkable set of articles on pictorial analysis. (shrink)
James Gibson’s concept of affordances was an attempt to undermine the traditional dualism of the objective and subjective. Gibson himself insisted on the continuity of “affordances in general” and those attached to human artifacts. However, a crucial distinction needs to be drawn between “affordances in general” and the “canonical affordances” that are connected primarily to artifacts. Canonical affordances are conventional and normative. It is only in such cases that it makes sense to talk of the affordance of the object. Chairs, (...) for example, are for sitting-on, even though we may also use them in many other ways. A good deal of confusion has arisen in the discussion of affordances from (1) the failure to recognize the normative status of canonical affordances and (2) then generalizing from this special case. (shrink)
In this response we address additions to as well as criticisms and possible misinterpretations of our proposal for a second-person neuroscience. We map out the most crucial aspects of our approach by (1) acknowledging that second-person engaged interaction is not the only way to understand others, although we claim that it is ontogenetically prior; (2) claiming that spectatorial paradigms need to be complemented in order to enable a full understanding of social interactions; and (3) restating that our theoretical proposal not (...) only questions the mechanism by which a cognitive process comes into being, but asks whether it is at all meaningful to speak of a mechanism and a cognitive process when it is confined to intra-agent space. We address theoretical criticisms of our approach by pointing out that while a second-person social understanding may not be the only mechanism, alternative approaches cannot hold their ground without resorting to second-person concepts, if not in the expression, certainly in the development of social understanding. In this context, we also address issues of agency and intentionality, theoretical alternatives, and clinical implications of our approach. (shrink)
Whereas Darwin insisted upon the continuity of human and nonhuman animals, more recent students of animal behavior have largely assumed discontinuity. Lloyd Morgan was a pivotal figure in this transformation. His "canon, " although intended to underpin a psychological approach to animals, has been persistently misunderstood to be a stark prohibition of anthropomorphic description. His extension to animals of the terms "behavior" and "trial-and-error, " previously restricted to human psychology, again largely unwittingly devalued their original meaning and widened the gulf (...) between animals and humans. His insistence that knowledge of animal psychology could be trusted solely to "qualified" observers initiated the exclusion from science of the informal and intimate knowledge of animals gained by pet owners, animal trainers, and other scientific outsiders. The presumption, however, that animals, in contrast to people. are to be understood solely as "strangers, " begs, rather than addresses, the question of animal-human continuity. (shrink)
Modern cognitive psychology presents itself as the revolutionary alternative to behaviorism, yet there are blatant continuities between modern cognitivism and the mechanistic kind of behaviorism that cognitivists have in mind, such as their commitment to methodological behaviorism, the stimulus–response schema, and the hypothetico-deductive method. Both mechanistic behaviorism and cognitive behaviorism remain trapped within the dualisms created by the traditional ontology of physical science—dualisms that, one way or another, exclude us from the "physical world." Darwinian theory, however, put us back into (...) nature. The Darwinian emphasis upon the mutuality of animal and environment was further developed by, among others, James, Dewey, and Mead. Although their functionalist approach to psychology was overtaken by Watson 's behaviorism, the principle of animal–environment dualism continued to figure within the work of Skinner and Gibson. For the clearest insights into the mutuality of organism and environment we need to set the clock back quite a few years and return to the work of Darwin and the early functionalist psychologists. (shrink)
Psychologists have had very little to say about things. Things are one thing, people are another. There is now, however, a growing recognition of the importance of things within human psychology. But, in cognitive theory, the meanings of things are usually radically subjectivized. ‘Their’ meanings are really ‘our’ meanings that we mentally project upon them. James Gibson’s concept of affordances was an attempt to avoid subject–object dualism by defining the meanings of things-what we can do with them-as properties of the (...) object but defined relative to the agent. Critics have rightly objected that Gibson himself, nevertheless, overly objectified or reified affordances. Yet the affordances of many objects in the human world are objective, or, better, impersonal. The present chapter, however, is concerned with such ‘canonical affordances’-the things that things are for. But, as it argues, this kind of ‘objectivity’ must itself be understood in relation to other objects and events, and other people. (shrink)
The status of "anthropomorphic" descriptions of animals in terms of intentions and emotions has been generally regarded as a prescriptive methodological concern. In contrast, in the study of human social psychology the nature of psychological descriptions of other people has been approached as a substantive empirical issue. Following this lead, the present study investigated the nature of people's descriptions of short videotaped episodes of animal behavior. The descriptions obtained were predominantly anthropomorphic and structured according to a limited set of "event (...) units" whose psychological meaning was highly consistent across the observers. In common with many social psychologists we conclude that consistency of anthropomorphic description suggests that meaning is specified within the structure of behavior. (shrink)
Stoffregen & Bardy argue that unimodal invariants do not exist, and that only invariants are possible. But they confuse two separate issues. Amodal invariants, we argue, do indeed exist to specify features of the environment, but not even an amodal invariant, in isolation, could specify their or.
At the close of their searching critique, Saunders & van Brakel raise, but do not address, the question: There are two distinct traditions of colour research, one based on disembodied coloured lights and another on surface colour. The coherence and integrity of both these traditions are challenged by the nonautonomy of colour.
Drawing upon the work of Merleau-Ponty, Borrett et al. (2000) have attempted to model the primordial, "empty heads turned towards the world." Putting the issue of embodiment aside for another day, they propose two separate models, one of movement and the other of perception. While I am sympathetic to the point of their project, I argue in this commentary that their models are insufficiently vague. The following analytic abstractions to which they commit themselves seem seriously at odds with the nature (...) of their task: action versus perception; vision versus the other senses; spatial properties versus, for example, colour and meaning; and 'a controller' versus the body and its environment. (shrink)